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Attn: OCR vocalists. Help!


dPaladin
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I want to improve my singing, particularly my volume and range. I just started voice lessons at college, but my teacher seems to be the, "Here, sing this for next time. I will give you no help on technique" type of instructor. So she might be dropped and I'll find someone else. That was the first lesson though, so she might just be interested in seeing how I do with the piece she gave me, which is too high for me to sing.

Anyway, can someone recommend some stuff for me to try as far as improving my strength of sound? I've been told that I don't breathe properly but the people who say that are pretty vague on how to fix it. Also, I can't sing high enough. I've got about two octaves without falsetto, but some bass parts are pitched way too high. Is there a way to help this? It seems like something I can't really change.

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Don't forget (and take the time) to do warm-ups. (scales, and simple melodic patters, and what-not)

Like any other muscles that you might want to use preparing your diaphragm and vocal cords will give you better response when you need them. Simply warming-up will increase your range (beyond not having warmed-up)

If you already take the time to warm-up, nevermind ;)

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but my teacher seems to be the, "Here, sing this for next time. I will give you no help on technique" type of instructor. So she might be dropped and I'll find someone else. That was the first lesson though, so she might just be interested in seeing how I do with the piece she gave me, which is too high for me to sing.

You might go to a second lesson, just to make sure that it's not some kind of test to determine what exactly you need to work on.

I've been told that I don't breathe properly but the people who say that are pretty vague on how to fix it. Also, I can't sing high enough. I've got about two octaves without falsetto, but some bass parts are pitched way too high. Is there a way to help this? It seems like something I can't really change.

For breathing, you might look up some live video from a (good) concert and study how a good singer breathes inbetween words. It's usually more readily apparent live, and if you sing along, breathing when they do, you can start to get a feel for it. As for range, the more you practice singing higher/lower, just a few notes above/below what's comfortable, the more you'll stretch out your range. Practice, practice, practice. Just don't practice too much - it'll end up doing more damage than good. I lost my voice for a week because of non-stop practice. If I remembered what qualified as excessive I'd tell you, but I don't remember. You should probably look that up.

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I am so totally taking a class on this right now and also answering questions for a homework assignment on it.

SO. Let me give you some of my notes and stuff from my book.

So there are three things you want to think about when you're singing in this order:

1. Posture

2. Breath Support

3. Embouchure.

1. Posture:

The best posture is to be standing so that your diaphragm (a dome shaped muscle located beneath the lungs which contracts as you inhale and expands when you exhale) is not tense. If you're sitting, you want to be sitting upright as though there is a string attached to the top of your spine and somebody is pulling up on it.

2. Breath Support:

When you inhale you want to take deep breaths, and fill your lungs. Breathing exercises are extremely helpful to this. Breath in for 4 counts, and then exhale for 8, then 10, 12, and finally 16 if you can. When doing this exercise, imagine you are sipping in the air from a really thick straw and the same as when you exhale.

Here are some breath excercises I copied directly from my book

Slow leak: standing tall with elevated sternum and expanded rib cage, place hands on the lower rib line (not waist line), exhale, inhale with a slow sip, and exhale on a soft ssss sound for varying counts of ten to thirty seconds. Monitor ribcage that moves in slowly.

Stopped Leak: follow the plan for slow leak, this time stop the leak every five seconds followed by five seconds of the ssss sound

Forced Exhalation: Exhale, inhale, and attempt to blow out some of the air forcefully through tightly closed lips

Breath Pulsing: Exhale, inhale, and lightly pulse the breath four times on a slight ssss sound. Gradually increase the power of the crunches every four counts until a very firm level of abdominal contraction has been reached.

Power Breath: Exhale, inhale, and forcefully expel the air on one long ssss sound; do not bend over while exhaling. Monitor for strong contraction of the abdominal muscles. This exercise may be used to conclude the above breath-pulsing exercise.

Breath Articulation: Exhale, inhale, and exhale the air with five quick soundless bumps on "huh-huh-huh-huh-huh"

3. Embouchure.

Embouchure basically describes the shape of your mouth when singing. You want your soft palate to be raised (this is located on the top of your mouth in the back). Imagine your mouth as a cathedral, where your cheeks are high walls, the toungue is the floor, and the roof of your mouth is an arched ceiling. Your tongue should never be pulled back, rather it should rest behind your front bottom teeth. The shape of your mouth is very similar to that of your mouth when you yawn. Having a correct embouchure helps a LOT with the tone and resonance of your voice.

For your range, understand that it does take awhile to build your range. Work on vocalises, and modulate by half steps. For instance start on a comfortable note, and sing a pattern such as Do Re Mi Fa Sol Fa Mi Re Do Mi Do and then modulate a half step up, as far as you are comfortable going.

To develop the lower range, sing descending patterns; Sol Fa Mi Re Do is really common, and sing it on different vowel sounds "Ahhhhh", "Ohhhhh" and "Ooooooo" are common.

Hope that helps...(i'm totally NOT procrastinating)

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Well, I can only give the most basic of advice, but one of the most important things about singing is that you breathe not with your chest, but with your abdomen.

I've heard that a lot. It's odd because I was told the same thing about playing wind instruments and people seem to think I do an okay job of that. As far as I can tell I breathe the same way for each.

For breathing, you might look up some live video from a (good) concert and study how a good singer breathes inbetween words. It's usually more readily apparent live, and if you sing along, breathing when they do, you can start to get a feel for it. As for range, the more you practice singing higher/lower, just a few notes above/below what's comfortable, the more you'll stretch out your range. Practice, practice, practice. Just don't practice too much - it'll end up doing more damage than good. I lost my voice for a week because of non-stop practice. If I remembered what qualified as excessive I'd tell you, but I don't remember. You should probably look that up.

Good idea. I'll look for some videos on my own, but if you have a specific one in mind that you're thinking of, I'd go for it.

In high school choir (which I did for a year and I hadn't really sang a song in my life before that), I was constantly at the top of my range and I think I gained a little bit of ground but I can't quite get middle C, which supposedly everyone should be able to sing.

I do all my practicing at school or at home when there's no one around so I can avoid being made fun of. It's not likely that I'll practice too much considering how busy school is making me.

I'll look at those breathing exercises. I've done some of them in band but it's not something I do regularly.

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When breathing, I make sure my mouth is in a shape like I would be saying "hope". If you breathe in noisily, that usually means you're not doing it right.

Breaths should be fast and fill your lungs. Make sure, however, that you aren't scrunching up your shoulders when you do so. Fill your stomach first, then up towards your chest, expanding a bit there (what naturally expands, don't force it). Anything that's going to cause unnecessary tightness will affect your tone. For example, if you tighten your fists when you talk, your voice starts to take a darker, angrier tone.

For range, try starting on a higher note, and sing down in a pattern. "so fa mi re do" works (G F E D C for example), holding out the do. The point is to get a good tone on the last note, and it's easier to do that if you start high. Working up to a note makes it easier to strain and also makes it feel like climbing a mountain. Go up a half step and repeat.

I'm definately looking for tips on strengthening sound, but one thing I know is that the placement of the sound can effect your projection. Try imagining your mouth in numbers, with 1 being at your lips, or past it, and 5 being the back of your throat. Try singing, feeling the sound at each number. Have someone listen to you and tell you where you sound best, both in projection and timbre.

Just some of what I've picked up, but in no ways the best advice out there. Give your teacher a couple weeks, I'm sure they need a bit to see what you can do before they really start teaching.

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Well, I can only give the most basic of advice, but one of the most important things about singing is that you breathe not with your chest, but with your abdomen.

yes, everything comes from the diaphragm (sp?). its almost like you breathe in through your bellybutton to fill a tire thats around your waist. releasing comes from there too. it should feel as though youre squeezing your midsection to let the air out. volume and range requires an immense amount of practice, as controlling the airflow at extremes is not easy and requires some strength.

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I'm currently also taking voice lessons and I agree with a lot of what yoda has said above.

3. Embouchure.

Embouchure basically describes the shape of your mouth when singing. You want your soft palate to be raised (this is located on the top of your mouth in the back). Imagine your mouth as a cathedral, where your cheeks are high walls, the toungue is the floor, and the roof of your mouth is an arched ceiling. Your tongue should never be pulled back, rather it should rest behind your front bottom teeth. The shape of your mouth is very similar to that of your mouth when you yawn. Having a correct embouchure helps a LOT with the tone and resonance of your voice.

Just wanted to add, though, this part depends on the style of singing that you want. You'd want to use a raised soft palate if you're singing classical/opera type stuff. But you wouldn't want this for some, more contemporary genres.

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Raising your soft palate to the extreme will make you sound like Kermit the Frog. Also in addition to breathing properly, breath in silently. This is necessary even if you have a segment coming up that requires a lot of air. Enunciate as well. If you don't do this, you will lose a lot of syllables here and there. Practice while speaking normally and exaggerate some of the sounds that you make. Speaking is a full mouth experience, and some people only exercise a small part of it. Afterall, singing is communication too!

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A really good technique for improving range is to sing very quietly. There are certain notes you will find yourself only able to hit if you sing louder/push more air through your vocal chords. It's more difficult to actually get a note out, rather than just a breath. That will give you a good vocal workout and give you an idea of what notes you will need more breath for.

I'n addition, moving your lips more to really pronounce the words very clearly can make you open your mouth more overall and project your voice. I know that's a bit simple but I hope it helps anyway.

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